Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (3 September 2017, 12 Elul, 5777)
Do the Palestinians think they are Jewish descendants?
On the whole they do not think they are descended from Jews.
There are some villages and extended families of whom it is said that they were once Jews.
Their numbers are not many but they exist.
Other Arabs use such claims as means to denigrate the people concerned.
Most such people are often among the most virulent of Judeophobes.
It is as if they wish to prove to themselves and others that they have no connection to the Jews.
On the other hand some of them do indeed help Israel in its struggle for survival.
Where do these ideas of Jewish descent derive from?
There are three main sources:
1. In the distant past some of them may have been Jews who were forced to become Muslims or Jews may have settled among them.
2. In recent times, i.e. the last 150 years or so, the Arabs allowed Jewish males to keep Arab women in their villages as concubines. The offspring of these unions identify as Muslim Arabs but are sometimes referred to as Jews by their fellows.
3. In the Present Era Arab males sometimes take Jewish women, make them Muslims, and beget children from them. Sometimes the children return to Judaism. Usually they remain Arabs.
Many of the early Arab terrorists were reportedly the offspring of such unions.
There is a verse in Isaiah which has best been rendered into English by the English Standard Version:
Isaiah (ESV) 49:
17 Your builders make haste; your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
The last part of this verse says:
"your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you."
This has been traditionally understood to mean that often the enemies of the Jewish people came out of Judah, i.e. were of Jewish descent.